When my young boys see grey hair it scares them. They point and stare and consign the poor old biddy to the grave, wondering what she must have done to deserve such a fate. So, naturally, when my seven year old first noticed one of my new grey hairs, fear struck him like a bolt, paralyzing him with doom. “Mom, your hair! Are you dying?” He drew the attention of his brother and dad to the top of my head where the course white hair grew like a curse. All three of them moved in close, mourning my youth when I swatted them away with my cane, I mean hand. What had I done to deserve such a fate? A grey hair and a brood of children (and a husband) who have never watched a woman age up close and personal. As a child, I watched my grandma twist her puff of grey hair into bobby pin curls every night and helped her scrape the calluses off of her heels so that she could shove them back into her pumps in the morning. I dipped my fingers into her Ponds cold cream as she smoothed it on her soft, rolling wrinkles and smelled deep its clean, oily fragrance. She wasn’t dying. She was more alive than my mother, who dyed her hair a crispy black and slathered baby oil on her face when she sat in the sun. Age would crack through her scalp every 3 weeks and frantically she hung her head in the bathtub with a bottle of dye to shove it back in. But how could I blame her? Surely she was the only 40 year old woman dyeing of age. Such a shame. To whither away in a tub full of dye. And maybe that’s why I look at the boxes of dye on the shelves of the store and think of my grandma who had so much more; a womanhood that isn’t dying but living. No frenzy. No panic. A woman who touches her hair and her face and doesn’t despise the moving of time. What a gift I was given.
So, I answer my son, “No, I’m not dyeing. Not ever.